Across the country, teachers are changing the way they teach in response to Common Core standards.
In Belle Chasse, Louisiana, first-grade teacher Debbie Giroir is cautiously optimistic, according to the Hechinger Report.
Jasmine, a small girl with braids, stands in front of the classroom, sketching out different ways to represent the number: five triangles, five tally marks, 2 + 3 = 5.
“Does anyone have another way we can make five?” Giroir asks. The answers come fast and furiously.
“Five plus zero!”
“Four plus one!”
“I have another way!”
In Giroir’s first grade classroom, traditional math textbooks and worksheets are relics of the past. In their place are “manipulatives”—physical objects such as brightly colored blocks, dice, cubes, popsicle sticks, and dominoes—that students can use to explore the math concepts they are studying. When learning that two plus three equals five, for instance, they can count out the equation using their cubes instead writing it over and over again on a worksheet.
Belle Chasse first graders will spend more time learning how to represent and manipulate small numbers and less time on on measurement and telling time. There’s no time to learn about coins. “Before, they had a little bit of everything, but just didn’t dig deep,” said Giroir.
English teachers are using more nonfiction, reports the California Teachers Association.
At Lincoln High School in San Jose, students compare F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby with an essay, also by Fitzgerald, Echoes of the Jazz Age.
Students are told they have 20 minutes to write a group essay describing “social customs” and “societal norms” of the Roaring ’20s.
. . . Each group has a “scribe” entering the essay dictated by the group into a laptop. Meanwhile, English teacher Ryan Alpers monitors each group’s progress on his own computer via a shared drive on Google Docs, inserting suggestions into their essays to help them along.
In an algebra class at Pioneer High School in Whittier, students answer questions with “brief constructed responses” to show their understanding. “I have adjusted instruction to allow students more time to work together to process and critique the reasoning of others,” says Jessica Sandoval.
Last year, Melissa Anderson would explain unfamiliar words in a story to her first graders before reading it. This year, she tells them to listen to the “gist,” think about what they didn’t understand and discuss it with their “pair-share” partner. “It’s wonderful to see them engaged in active learning,” she says.